Americans move less than ever

Fewer Americans are moving into new homes than at any time since the government began tracking, as demographic trends collide with a hot housing market in which prices are rising due to a lack of supply.

New data from the US Census Bureau shows that only 8.4 percent of Americans live in a different home than they did a year ago. That’s the lowest turnover rate the office has recorded at any time since 1948.

That ratio means that around 27.1 million people moved house in the last year, also the lowest ever recorded.

The number of Americans moving from one home to another has been declining for decades, said Cheryl Russell, author of the Demo Memo blog on demographic trends. In the 1950s and 1960s, about one in five Americans moved house in a given year. That dropped to 14 percent at the turn of the century and 11.6 percent a decade ago.

The more sedentary population is the product of a handful of demographic factors that have grown as the American population ages, as the consequences of the Great Recession of a decade ago continue and the pandemic slows the plans of many people.

Edward Berchick, a population scientist at online real estate firm Zillow, said all of these factors have contributed to lower home sales.

Older people tend to move less. And as fewer Americans have children, the birth rate is also at an all-time low, fewer families feel the need to move to larger homes. The pandemic also injected caution into the minds of shoppers as they sheltered in place to protect themselves from the virus.

“Right now there is a lot of uncertainty about longer-term plans,” Berchick said. “With some economic uncertainty, people just stop their plans.”

The aging of the population is playing an important role. Never before has America had so many residents over the age of 65, an age when people are more likely to own their own homes and less likely to face pressure to move to a new place.

“Postwar elders cling to their homes, as is typical of older Americans,” Russell said in an email. “Boomers are in the stage of life where people normally sit still. As older Americans increasingly dominate homeownership, the older structure has reduced inventory and decreased mobility. “

At the same time, those looking for a home find themselves with some of the highest prices ever recorded. Zillow data shows that the typical home value is $ 312,000, up 19 percent from last year and is projected to rise another 13 percent next year.

Prices are rising not just in big cities like New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, but also in smaller mid-tier metropolitan areas. Data collected by, an online real estate listing agency, found that the most popular markets in the United States are in Manchester, NH, Burlington, NC, east of Greensboro, and Eureka, California.

Three Indiana cities, Elkhart, Lafayette and Fort Wayne, are also among the most popular markets in the nation.

Rising prices mean that home seekers are entering a market where their dollar is not reaching as far as it used to. Ongoing housing shortages and construction that slowed during the pandemic in part due to problems with the supply chain and the workforce have put further upward pressure on home prices.

Census Bureau data shows that the total number of housing units grew by just 6.6 percent between 2010 and 2020, while the number of vacant units fell 8.6 percent, a sign of a market. that is adjusting rather than expanding.

“In recent decades, population growth has outpaced the growth in housing supply,” Berchick said.

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